The Leach Report Weekdays, 8-9a
The Leach Report Weekdays, 8-9a
The Leach Report Weekdays, 8-9a
The Morning Tip-off with Michael Bennett weekdays 7-8
The Morning Tip-off with Michael Bennett weekdays 7-8
The Morning Tip-off with Michael Bennett weekdays 7-8
Kentucky Sports Radio, Weekdays, 9-11a
Kentucky Sports Radio, Weekdays, 9-11a
Kentucky Sports Radio, Weekdays, 9-11a
The Dan Patrick Show, Weekdays 11a-2p
The Dan Patrick Show,  Weekdays 11a-2p
The Dan Patrick Show,  Weekdays 11a-2p
In one of the longer tenured rivalries in western Kentucky football, few matchups of the past between (12-0) Mayfield and (8-4) Murray have the magnitude as Friday night’s matchup for the Class 2A Regional Championship.

It was a potential matchup that looked more like a dream for a portion of the night last Friday as Murray fell behind Owensboro Catholic 26-0 in the first half. The Tigers used a 41-6 run over the final three quarters to escape Owensboro with a 41-32 win. Junior playmaker Jaiden Jackson led the Murray charge, scoring three touchdowns while senior tailback Mark Thompson chimed in with two touchdowns as well. Thompson has led the rushing attack this season with 1,032 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.

While the Tigers have displayed a flare for the dramatic at times this season, the exact opposite can be said of Mayfield. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more dynamic offense this season than that of the Cardinals.

Through the first 12 games of this season, the Cardinals have averaged 48 points per game. In Class 2A, the Cardinals have averaged just over 53 points per game. In their first matchup with Murray, the Cardinals put a season-best 63 points on the scoreboard in a 63-28 rout in Murray. To the Tigers credit, the 28 points scored on the Cardinals were the most Mayfield has given up this season.

Mayfield’s offensive weapons are numerous. Jaden Stinson continues to glide through his junior season campaign at quarterback; passing for 2,429 yards and 30 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He’s found 9 different Mayfield receivers for touchdowns, including Kade Neely who has 13 touchdowns and 812 receiving yards, Diaz Perry who has 9 touchdowns and 674 receiving yards, and Alonzo Daniel who has six touchdown grabs and 415 yards receiving.

Murray has featured an explosive balanced attack on offense. On the season, the Tigers have passed for 2,127 yards while rushing for 2,019 yards. Hunter Utley has led the passing attack with 2,127 yards passing and 22 touchdowns this season.

His top three targets this season have been Jorden Duffy with 565 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, Jaiden Jackson with five touchdowns and 552 yards receiving, and Kayden Rogers with five touchdowns and 222 yards receiving. Mark Thompson has led the rushing attack this season with 1,032 yards rushing and 15 rushing touchdowns.

The Tigers and the Cardinals square off at Mayfield’s historic War Memorial Stadium Friday night at 7pm.

 

Friday Night's Playoff Games

Class 1A Regional Championship
Crittenden County at Campbellsville

Class 2A Regional Championship

Murray at Mayfield

Class 4A Regional Championship
Madisonville at Franklin-Simpson
In a game of runs between teams with contrasting styles, Memphis made the last, defining push.

Marc Gasol scored 29 points, Mike Conley added 26 and the grind-it-out Grizzlies held off the up-tempo Bucks 116-113 on Wednesday night, handing Milwaukee its first home loss of the season.

It's a nice way for Memphis to start a busy stretch of four games in six nights.

"The words 'grit' and 'grind' mean something to our guys," Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "To do what we did here speaks to that."

After losing a 15-point lead in the third quarter, Memphis surged ahead again late and held on with key baskets from Conley.

With the shot clock winding down, Conley hit a turnaround jumper in the middle of the lane for a 113-109 lead with 26 seconds left.

Conley also hit two foul shots with 9.9 seconds left for a four-point lead, though Shelvin Mack went 1 of 2 at the line with 2.1 seconds left to give the Bucks one last chance trailing by three.

The Bucks inbounded the ball to their best 3-point shooter, Khris Middleton. He missed near the top of the arc with two defenders in his face as time expired.

"Stops. Stops. Stops. Finding a way to stop them," Gasol said in describing Memphis' final run.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points, and Middleton added 25 for the Bucks. They squandered an eight-point lead with 9:08 left.

One of the NBA's most prolific 3-point shooting teams, Milwaukee couldn't overcome a cold-shooting night from the arc. They shot 50.6 percent overall but just 25.7 percent from 3-point territory (9 of 35).

The Bucks came out sluggish coming off of a four-stop, Western Conference road trip, having also trailed by 11 in the first half.

"I felt like we could play with more energy, we could be better executing," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

IT'S PAT

Mack added 15 points, including three 3s in a third quarter in which Memphis led by as much as 15.

The Bucks got back in it with a 19-2 run spearheaded by defense and energetic guard Pat Connaughton, who had 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and added six rebounds.

Connaughton opened the fourth quarter with a dunk , and Eric Bledsoe followed with a steal and dunk on the break to tie the game at 84 apiece.

It looked like the Bucks were off to the races again, playing their kind of pace. Memphis mustered enough defense late to hold off another charge.

"One thing we can do is defend when shots aren't falling," Connaughton said.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: The win snapped a 16-game road losing streak against Eastern Conference foes. ... Down five players because of injuries, Memphis still enjoyed a pace in the first half that catered to its grind-it-out style. Gasol had 11 points to pace the Grizzlies' to a 48-45 halftime lead. It helped, too, that the Bucks were just 4 of 23 (17 percent) from the arc in the first half. Bickerstaff said the injuries haven't prevented the team from playing the kind of kind of slow-down, defensive style that he is trying to instill.

"The thought is can you make people uncomfortable and make them fight a fight they aren't accustomed to," Bickerstaff said.

Bucks: Rookie G Donte DiVincenzo left the game with left knee soreness. He played six minutes in the first half, scoring three points. ... The Bucks wasted an opportunity to go 11-3, which would have matched their best start since 1980-81. ... Budenholzer was ejected in the fourth quarter after picking up his second technical foul.

The ejection occurred after it appeared the Budenholzer was arguing about a call in which Malcolm Brogdon stepped out of bounds. The guard might have been pushed out of bounds by a defender. Asked if he was surprised that he got ejected, Budenholzer said "It's a good question."

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: Return home Friday night to face the Sacramento Kings

Bucks: Host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

As No. 10 Kentucky works through initial growing pains, it can feel good about its first lopsided win this season.

PJ Washington set a career high with 25 points and grabbed a season-best seven rebounds, Tyler Herro added 18 points and the Wildcats rolled over North Dakota 96-58 on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (2-1) finally got the dominant effort they sought after a rough first week in which Duke beat them by 34 points before they scraped by Southern Illinois. They had to shake off an initial back-and-forth with the Fighting Hawks (2-1), who led 13-12 before Washington's 3-pointer put Kentucky ahead to stay. The Wildcats outscored North Dakota 27-7 over 9:46 for a 39-20 cushion and led by 38 in the closing minutes.

That initial basket was big for Washington, Kentucky's top returning scorer who managed just 11 points through two games. He went on to post a season-high 10 points by halftime before scoring 15 more after the break. He finished 9 of 13 from the field, including a career-best 4 of 5 from behind the arc to surpass his previous best of 22 points against Mississippi State in January.

"I just tried to be solid and try to get rebounds, get out and try to create for everybody," Washington said. "Once I saw a couple go in, it opened up for me."

Herro was just as relieved to regroup from a scoreless performance against SIU.

He went 7 of 12 with a 3-pointer to top his 14-point debut against Duke, and Kentucky shot 53 percent in the opening game of the Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase. The Wildcats scored 31 points off 20 turnovers with 12 steals, including a career-high five by Herro.

"It was just how we practiced," the freshman guard said. "After the Southern Illinois game we were focused all week on playing hard defensively and I think that just carried over to the game."

Keldon Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Kentucky's first double-double this season. Immanuel Quickley also scored 10 for the Wildcats.

Conner Avants had 14 points and Filip Rebraca 13 for North Dakota (2-1), which shot 40 percent in its first meeting with the Wildcats.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kentucky's convincing performance, perhaps overdue, should help seal another week in the top 10 — provided the Wildcats take care of VMI this weekend.

BIG PICTURE

North Dakota: Perimeter shooting helped the Fighting Hawks make things interesting early against the Wildcats. That strong start lasted just six minutes as they were thoroughly overwhelmed in their first meeting against a Southeastern Conference school. They finished 7 of 19 from 3-point range but their rebounding total was four fewer than Kentucky grabbed alone offensively.

"We got out of the gates well," coach Brian Jones said, "but as the first half wore on we weren't able to take care of the basketball and that allowed them to get a little bit of separation. ... When they can rebound and run and turn you over and run, they're pretty hard to beat."

Kentucky: The Wildcats looked much better than in Friday's shaky escape against Southern Illinois. Besides shooting a season best from the field, they controlled the paint (46-18) and owned the glass 45-15. Though they were far from perfect, coach John Calipari was happy to see his team disrupt an opponent for a change.

"We still had some breakdowns and there were a couple of plays where we got scored on," he said. "But I liked the fact that we turned somebody over finally."

UP NEXT

North Dakota hosts Minnesota Morris on Saturday in the first of consecutive home games.

Kentucky hosts VMI on Sunday in the second game of the Hardwood Showcase, which also features Winthrop and Tennessee State.

Kentucky has announced the signing of guard Tyrese Maxey to a national letter of intent for the 2019-2020 season.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Maxey is rated as a top-10 prospect and the consensus No. 2 point guard by several recruiting sites. He averaged 22.5 points, 7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last season for South Garland (Texas) High School and helped Team USA win the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship last summer. Maxey averaged 8.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest despite missing two games with an injured right ankle.

Kentucky coach John Calipari praised Maxey's scoring ability and said he can also rebound, defend and create shots for teammates. The coach added, "He may not make every shot, but he almost always makes the right play."

Murray State men's basketball announced plans to honor Coach Tevester Anderson on the night of Dec. 15 when the Racers host the Jackson State Tigers at the CFSB Center in a 7 p.m. tip in Murray, Ky.

It will be a great day to honor a great coach, as the two schools Anderson served as head coach meet for the first time since 1972.

Affectionately know in college basketball circles as Coach T, Anderson had an amazing career that spanned him leading high school programs in Mississippi and Georgia for more than 20 years in the 1960'2 to the early 1980's, coaching at Auburn and Georgia before coming to Murray State (1995-98) as assistant in 1995 and later becoming head coach for five seasons (1998-03) and later 10 seasons as head coach at Jackson State (2003-13). 

With the Racers first as an assistant under Coach Mark Gottfried, Anderson and the Racers went 40-12 in three seasons in the Ohio Valley Conference including two regular season championships and a pair NCAA Tournament appearances. As a head coach, Coach T kept the Racer tradition going by winning 103 games in five seasons with another pair of OVC championships and NCAA appearances. He was named OVC Coach of the Year for the 1998-99 season.

Known as an outstanding recruiter, Coach Anderson had a hand in coaching three OVC Player of the Year winners including: Marcus Brown 1994-95, De'Teri Mayes 1997-98 and Aubrey Reese 1999-00. And 10 players that were named All-OVC including Marcus Brown 1994-95, De'Teri Mayes 1996-97, 1997-98, Vincent Rainey 1995-96, 1996-97, Chad Townsend 1996-97, 1997-98, Isaac Spencer 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, Aubrey Reese 1998-99, 1999-00,

Rod Murray 1998-99, Justin Burdine 2000-01, 2001-02, James Singleton 2001-02, 2002-03 and Cuthbert Victor 2002-03.

Fans attending the Jackson State game on Dec. 15 will see a half time ceremony that will honor Coach Anderson's legacy at Murray State.

All former players and staff of Coach Anderson are invited to return to Murray State and share in the evening. Those interested in attending the game are asked to contact Steve Harrell, MSU Senior Associate Ad for External Relations, at (270) 809-3430 or email sharrell4@murraystate.edu.